Pastner said that he and UGA coach Tom Crean considered possible openings, but were blocked by games already scheduled and a lack of coinciding openings. Tech, for instance, couldn’t schedule a game around Dec. 15 because of the ACC’s plan to play league games on that day and also the 16th. A desire to avoid playing back-to-back nights expanded that block of unavailable dates.
There remains a possibility that Tech and UGA could still meet given the potential for both teams to have opponents cancel on them due to COVID-19. The NCAA’s protocol calls for a 14-day quarantine for teams that have a player or staff member test positive, or if an opponent tests positive within 48 hours after a game.
“Obviously, if both of us have a cancellation and both of us need a game, that could be a possibility,” Pastner said. Otherwise, the teams will play next in the 2021-22 season in Athens.
As for the ACC schedule, the Jackets will open at No. 21 Florida State on Dec. 15. The Seminoles, who were named the league champion after finishing first in the regular season, are one of three teams in the AP top-25 poll that Tech will play twice, along with No. 9 Duke and No. 4 Virginia. The Jackets will also have home-and-home dates with Wake Forest and their permanent partners, Clemson and Notre Dame.
Duke and Virginia are the lone ACC teams that Tech has not defeated in Pastner’s first four seasons. The Blue Devils, in fact, have won the past 13 meetings and 37 of the past 40.
The schedule also includes home games with Boston College, North Carolina, Pitt and Syracuse. The road games are at Louisville, Miami, N.C. State and Virginia Tech. The home-and-home opponents, other than the permanent partners, are rotated annually.
“There’s no off nights,” Pastner said. “All 15 teams in the ACC are really good.”
Half of the 20 league games have flex dates, starting with a home game against North Carolina that will either be Dec. 29 or 30, a Tuesday and Wednesday. Nine of the 10 flex-date games are either Tuesday or Wednesday. The last is either March 5 or 6 at Wake Forest, a Friday/Saturday. The reason, Pastner said, is that ESPN is waiting on the NBA schedule to be released before it commits to dates, broadcast outlets and tipoff times.
It is an unusual amount of fluidity with the season due to start in two weeks. Normally, the conference schedule is released by mid-September with firm dates and start times with TV outlets determined or at least narrowed down.
Given the contact tracing protocols, the possibility of schedule changes seems quite high. The league’s news release acknowledged the possibility that all games may not be played. There is not much room for make-up dates. The conference tournament starts in Washington D.C. on March 9, three days after the final regular-season game.
Pastner said that the league’s coaches have discussed the potential to schedule games against each other on the fly (as non-league games) if opponents cancel due to COVID-19 and leave healthy teams with openings.
“You could play Clemson five times,” Pastner said. “The objective is you want to get the games in.”
Pastner has embraced the uncertainty that surrounds the impending season, which for the Jackets begins Nov. 25 against Georgia State at McCamish Pavilion.
“It’s not going to be the norm, but just for this one season, there’s no bad ideas,” Pastner said. “It’s everything’s kind of a wild card and there’s going to be cancellations, so how do you fit in games? You might play an opponent multiple times, whether it’s a conference opponent or an out-of-conference opponent. I don’t see that to be an issue.”
Georgia Tech 2020-21 basketball schedule
Game times to be determined. Home dates in bold.
Wednesday, Nov. 25 vs. Georgia State
Friday, Nov. 27 vs. Mercer
Sunday, Dec. 5 vs. Kentucky*
Wednesday, Dec. 9 at Nebraska
Tuesday, Dec. 15 at Florida State
Friday, Dec. 18 vs. Florida A&M
Sunday, Dec. 20 vs. Delaware State
Wednesday, Dec. 23 at UAB
Dec. 29 or Dec. 30 vs. North Carolina
Sunday, Jan. 3 vs. Wake Forest
Jan. 5 or Jan. 6 at Notre Dame
Saturday, Jan. 9 at Louisville
Jan. 12 or Jan. 13 vs. Pittsburgh
Saturday, Jan. 16 at N.C. State
Jan. 19 or Jan. 20 vs. Clemson
Saturday, Jan. 23 at Virginia
Jan. 26 or Jan. 27 at Duke
Saturday, Jan. 30 vs. Florida State
Saturday, Feb. 6 vs. Notre Dame
Feb. 9 or Feb. 10 vs. Virginia
Saturday, Feb. 13 at Clemson
Feb. 16 or Feb. 17 vs. Boston College
Saturday, Feb. 20 at Miami (Fla.)
Feb 23 or Feb. 24 at Virginia Tech
Saturday, Feb. 27 vs. Syracuse
March 2 or March 3 vs. Duke
March 5 or March 6 at Wake Forest
March 9 ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C.
* — Holiday Hoopsgiving at State Farm Arena